Pitt's Rutherford ``embarrassed'' by Labor Day incident

Updated: October 1, 2003, 8:17 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh quarterback Rod Rutherford said Wednesday that being charged in a Labor Day dispute with a woman outside a nightclub embarrassed him and forced him to rebuild his credibility.

The senior quarterback was charged by police with indecent assault, simple assault and criminal mischief following the early morning argument with the 19-year-old woman. He is accused of breaking out a car window during the dispute.

Through his attorney, Rutherford has denied the woman's account, saying the window was broken only after she hurled a glass in his direction.

Rutherford, speaking for the first time since the run-in, said, "I felt embarrassed by the actual incident. ... I regret what happened and it's a mistake I'm definitely going to learn from. I've just go to do what I can and move on."

Rutherford was held out for the first quarter of Pitt's season-opening 43-3 victory over Kent State on Sept. 6, because of the incident, but returned to throw four touchdowns passes in the second quarter. He has led No. 15 Pitt to a 3-1 record by throwing 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.

Pitt coach Walt Harris said Rutherford also was subjected to other team-related disciplinary action, but he has declined to reveal what it was.

"It just humbled me, it brought me back down to earth," Rutherford said. "It made me a better person, because you think you're all this and all that and then a situation like this happens and you lose all credibility. Everything went out the window.

"So I just started from ground zero. ... I know the type of person I am and I'll do whatever it takes to get the respect."

Until Wednesday, the university had declined to make Rutherford available for media interviews. The distractions caused by the charges apparently have not affected his play, as Rutherford leads NCAA Division I-A in pass efficiency at 182.64. He has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 1,171 yards and needs six more touchdown passes to match the 22 he threw last season.

Rutherford enjoyed perhaps the best game of his career Saturday, throwing for five touchdowns -- three to star receiver Larry Fitzgerald -- in a 37-26 victory at Texas A&M.

Rutherford, usually not a vocal leader, gave his teammates a pregame talk that Fitzgerald credits with motivating the Panthers.

"He gave us a very inspirational speech," Fitzgerald said. "That's really not his demeanor. He's not a big talker, but he said things at the right time and it inspired us to play a real good game."

Pitt is idle this weekend before playing Notre Dame at Heinz Field on Oct. 11.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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